Sportsmanship: Fans Perspective

I was sitting in the bleachers at the Central Connecticut softball game on Wednesday as they took on Holy Cross when I found myself almost in the middle of an argument/fight between two CCSU students and a Holy Cross parent.

I’m not sure if it’s all Northeast Conference games or just women’s sports, but I have heard announcements made before games asking the fans not to make any derogatory remarks and be respectful to the opposing team. This wasn’t exactly the problem Wednesday, but it still hit a nerve with me.

As I took my seat behind a couple Holy Cross parents, on the same bench as the Central students who were talking amongst themselves, I was ready to enjoy a softball game, even though it was cold and the wind was blowing. The game started and so did the chatter. Both parties were cheering for their classmates or daughters on the field, but it got ugly quick. As the husband of the woman in front of me stood at the bottom of the spectator area, the students began their ignorance.

A Holy Cross player stood in the on-deck circle and started cheering for her teammate at-bat, the boy next to me yelled, “Shut Up!” I couldn’t believe it, but I felt like it wasn’t my time or place to say anything. I’m pretty soft-spoken anyway and they wouldn’t listen to me. The woman gestured to her husband to come up and sit with her and didn’t look to happy. Once he sat down I could tell that she was explaining what happened, but I don’t know exactly what she said.

Maybe an inning later he stood up and left for a few minutes and while he walked away, a Central player popped up a ball to the left side of the infield and the two boys yelled in an attempt to distract her. The mother finally had enough, as they had said some other things and said, “You know, that’s pretty rude.” One of the kids apologized and the other responded with, “What is?” like a typical college student being a dick.

Later in the game one of the boys got up and left and as he walked down the steps, the husband turned to the wife and asked if that was the one with the mouth? Keep in mind that they said a couple other inappropriate things during the game while also rooting for the Blue Devils and asking a former softball player they were sitting with, the rules of the game.

And here is the point I am trying to make…I have been on both sides of this playing baseball and tennis growing up. Yes, they are very different sports, but the fans should act similar. I remember a state tournament tennis match I was in where the doubles team from North Branford we were playing had a few more fans than we did and they would cheer as loud for errors made by my partner and I than winners by the other team.

Baseball is a louder sport where there is a lot of talking by both teams and fans, but the same rules should apply. I have no problem with the fans rooting for their team or their player, but once you start cheering and razzing the other team for the mistakes they make, it gets hairy. The players learn to tune it out, but the fans don’t and they want to start an argument, because they are sticking up for their kids. The mother in the softball situation motioned to her husband on more than one occasion that she wanted to punch the kid for making those comments. I don’t blame her, but if a fight were to have broken out, I would have had no idea what to do.

The other point I am trying to make is, why are you insulting and mocking other players when you don’t even know the sport. I know I am a bigger baseball and softball fan than most people and know the game in and out, but at least know the game before you say anything. Some might say that they were taking the time to learn the game, but I disagree, they were on spring break at school and had nothing else to do, so they watched a few innings of CCSU softball and caused a problem.

There is nothing worse than generic taunting by fans who really have no idea what is going on. I hope that this does not happen again and I hope that the fans can become more educated in the sport and what they say, because think about it. If they were at an away game and CCSU was the visitor and the students from the other school were making fun of their classmates, they would feel the same way as the parents visiting CCSU did that day…

…by the way, that tennis match, we won and it was a huge upset, it felt good to shut up the other fans, but we did it on the court and not with our mouths.